Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage, delivering the country statement virtually at the Sixth Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Conference of Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), re-emphasized Sri Lanka’s continued engagement and close cooperation with the 27 – member regional body in achieving its goals for common benefit.
The 6th CICA Ministerial meeting was held on the 12 October 2021 in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan in a hybrid format.
Elaborating on the need for a collaborative approach to overcome the challenges posed by the Pandemic, Foreign Secretary Colombage also stressed Sri Lanka’s commitment to play a key role in the revival of the tourism Foreign Secretary in the CICA region. He also shared information regarding the success of the national vaccination drive and thanked the international partners for supporting Sri Lanka in various forms to fight the pandemic.
CICA is a multinational forum of twenty-seven Member States, formed for enhancing cooperation towards promoting peace, security, and stability in Asia. Sri Lanka obtained full membership of the CICA in 2018 and currently serves as the co-coordinator for the confidence-building measures in Tourism.
Full statement delivered by Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage is given below:
13 October 2021
Statement by Admiral (Prof.) Jayanath Colombage, Foreign Secretary of Sri Lanka at the 6th Ministerial Meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA)
12 October (Tuesday) 2021, 09:35 hrs (SLST) onwards
Chair, Distinguished Foreign Ministers and Dignitaries
Colleagues, Ladies, and Gentlemen,
At a time when the CICA celebrates its 29th Anniversary, I am delighted to participate in today’s CICA Ministerial Meeting from Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Prof. G.L. Peiris is not in a position to take part at today’s meeting given the need for his presence for another urgent engagement elsewhere. Let me extend warm congratulations from the Foreign Minister Prof. Peiris to Your Excellencies and the distinguished participants at this august gathering.
I congratulate the Chair, the Republic of Kazakhstan for taking the timely initiative to convene today’s meeting, and we are convinced of a successful outcome of this meeting under your able guidance.
Sri Lanka appreciates the active and visionary role played by the CICA Secretariat which has given further momentum and dynamism to the CICA process.
Our meeting today is taking place amid an unprecedented situation, triggered by a deadly pandemic. We are still grappling with severe disruptions to the health, safety, and livelihoods of our people. In this context, today’s meeting is an opportune occasion to collectively identify the challenges, find viable solutions, and follow the right strategies towards promoting inclusive and equitable growth in our region.
With regards to the COVID-19 response, the Government of Sri Lanka too, at present, has prioritized its efforts on the vaccination drive to contain the COVID-19 virus and ensure public health and safety while minimizing the disruption to people’s livelihood amidst a recent surge in infections.
As of now, around 11.9 million Sri Lankans, approximately 54% of the population of Sri Lanka which covers almost all those who are above the age of 30 in the country have been fully vaccinated. We truly appreciate the support extended to us in various forms by the friendly international and multilateral partners to battle the pandemic.
Sri Lanka regards that CICA as an essential mechanism for comprehensive dialogue on the issues of mutual interest. We welcome the recent efforts of the Secretariat and the Member States aimed at further strengthening the partnerships and confidence among the CICA Member States for common benefits.
Sri Lanka’s vision in achieving sustainable development through regional and global connectivity augmented by its’ neutral and non-aligned foreign policy, has been spelled out by President His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the national development policy framework ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’.
As it is known, the centre of gravity of the global economy has shifted progressively towards Asia. Over the past few decades, Asian economies are catching up and becoming larger than the rest of the world.
Thus, it is evident that in an increasingly globalized and interdependent world, maritime, land, people to people, and other types of connectivity in the CICA region are becoming imperative for success. In this context, Sri Lanka is looking forward to the collective leadership of the CICA in accomplishing the ambitious sustainable development goals collectively.
I would like to reiterate that Sri Lanka, in our capacity as the co-coordinator of Confidence Building Measures in Tourism, is committed to play an important role in confronting the challenges posed by the pandemic in the tourism sector. Sri Lanka, as one of the top travel destinations in the world, last August successfully conducted a ‘Virtual Business to Business Interactive Session with the CICA Member States to Enhance Tourism Cooperation’.
We have proposed several other activities to the CICA work plan aiming at greater integration and cooperation within the Tourism Industry in the region, and we look forward to receiving your fullest cooperation towards the successful implementation of these projects in the coming years.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am confident that today’s meeting will not only allow us to summarize experiences we have gained during the years of interaction within the CICA family but also contribute to redirect our joint endeavors towards building back better.